Unless you’re living under a rock, I’m certain that all of you are being bombarded with “coronamania” just like me. From tv to social media, it seems that everywhere I turn, this virus is all anyone can talk about. And while I do think it’s important we take note of illness that is easily transmitted in the way this is, it bothers me that, in my opinion, the media is initiating unneeded hysteria. So before you uproot your life to live in a bubble or start lynching everyone you meet with a cough, let’s examine the facts.
As of March 11, there have now been more than 120,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and 4,300 people have died, most of which are elderly or others with compromised immune systems, according to a report on cbsnews.com.
Now let’s compare that to data provided by the CDC on their website (cdc.gov) regarding the common flu virus. “CDC estimates that so far this flu season (running between October 2019 until February 29, 2020 post) there have been at least 34 million flu illnesses, 350,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths from the flu.”
According to a report posted 1 week ago by the World Health Organization, based on data collected in 2016, worldwide more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight and of these, 650 million were obese. Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese and 40 million children under the age of 5 were categorized as overweight or obese. They also reported that most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
I can’t help but be curious as to why these seemingly miniscule numbers, when compared to everyday health threats, are being pushed as an “epidemic” with such ferocity. I am not by any means trying to downplay the seriousness of illness, but when 300,000 people in the US alone die of weight-related complications each year, the 31 deaths due to Coronavirus seems like not that big of a deal.
I love this great country I have the privilege to live in and we have many wonderful qualities. But one major flaw is that it seems Americans have a bad habit of letting the media distract us from real issues and normalizing the things that are really our biggest enemies. Allow me to clarify what I’m saying. We are running out and clearing shelves of soaps and hand sanitizers in an effort to avoid a common flu that has killed less people than an average kindergarten class, and yet every day we break ground on a new McDonald’s or Hardee’s despite the fact that poor diet has killed the equivalent of the entire population of Tampa, FL.
It also seems that the new norm is to repeatedly poison ourselves with the food we’re eating and increasingly sedentary lifestyles and rely on doctors to provide us with a buffet of medications to treat the effects instead of curing the cause. Why has it now become easier to take pills to make us function as opposed to just being healthy?
Even with this virus, if you’re truly concerned with getting sick, then get your immune system in top working order. Eat lots and lots of colorful fruits and veggies and quality proteins. Get outdoors and absorb Vitamin D from sunlight. Get 8 hours of sleep and get your heart rate up for 30 minutes a day doing anything! That is going to do far more for you than a flu shot ever did. I don’t know about you, but I would far prefer to do that than letting a complete stranger at CVS or a walk-in clinic inject me with an unknown substance and just trusting that it’s “good for me.”
My point in writing this today is to just present facts that are readily available and demonstrate how the mass-media can alter reality. Before you believe ANYTHING you are told, through ANY medium, do your own research. Fact-check from reputable sources. Make reasonable comparisons. And just be rational. If you’re worried and upset that a virus with this low of a mortality rate is going to hurt you, maybe examine other areas of your life too that might deserve a bit of panic. Because your chances of things like heart disease, cancer and stroke are about a thousand times more likely to kill you.
I hope you all have a healthy, happy week, and in the words of Hulk Hogan, say your prayers, take your vitamins and you will never go wrong.
*As usual, I would like to emphasize this is an opinion-based column and I am not a medical expert. If you are ill, you should take the advice of a professional over that of a writer and wine rep with a Mass Comm degree.